Friday, May 30, 2014

The Friday Five

Here's what I'm loving this week:

1. E Turned Two!
E turned two on Monday. We celebrated by going to the park in the morning, swimming at our friend's house in the afternoon and going to a BBQ at Uncle O'Malley's house that evening. We're having his birthday party this weekend. It's unreal I have a two year old, time is going by so fast. Here's E at two years old:
  • Weighs 32.6lbs
  • Height is 2ft. 11.5 inches
  • Wears 2T and 3T clothes
  • Slight interest in potty training. He has a potty seat and likes to sit on it and flush but no actual potty in the potty. I bought him some Mickey Mouse Clubhouse underwear and we'll see if that helps the process.
  • Out of the crib for both naps and night time sleeping now.
  • Loves all things construction, playing in water, and being outside.
Happy Birthday Evan Michael! 
Mommy loves you to the moon and back.

2. Lots of BBQs
This weekend was Memorial Day and the unofficial start of summer. We had three BBQs this past weekend and it was great being out and about with friends. I look forward to more this summer.

E enjoying his food.
Fishing at the lake.
Packing up from a BBQ at the lake. 
3. Homemade Iced Coffee
I'm loving my homemade iced coffee this summer. I brew Dunkin' Doughnuts coconut coffee really strong by doubling the recommended amount of grounds. I put it in the fridge overnight and then the next day it's ready. I poor it over ice and add a splash of DD creamer. Delicious and addictive!

We are always looking for family friendly places to go and this coffeehouse has been on our list to try. There is a big playroom for kids and the coffee was great. We spent the morning drinking coffee, eating scones and E played in the playroom. It's a pretty popular place, lots of parents and kids were coming in and out. It's a little out of the way from our house but I would definitely like to go back.

The playroom.
E really enjoyed this piano.

5. Sibling Love
I'm so amazed at how well E has adjusted to Cora. He tries to be gentle with her and has shown very few signs of jealousy. He gets protective of his blanket and some of his books, other than that, it's all love.

Cora really does love her big brother,
 you just can't tell in this picture

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Feeling Frumpy

I almost titled this post, Letting Myself Go. After thinking it over, I don't think I've necessarily let myself go. I always look presentable, but at some point during this past year, I became frumpy. I had this realization when Mike and I went out for our anniversary. I wore jeans and a t-shirt. A nice t-shirt, but still, it was a t-shirt. I swiped on some mascara and lipgloss, threw on my flip flops and was ready to go. It's not like we were going to a fancy restaurant but it was a nice one and it was a special occasion. I should have put in more effort.

I've never been all that into fashion or makeup. But I've always liked shopping for clothes and wearing my new outfits. Each season I would refresh my makeup and no shopping trip was complete without stopping at Ulta. I considered my style "classy casual." So when did I go from "classy casual" to frumpy?

I suppose it started earlier this year around my third trimester with Cora. I was exhausted and hormonal and we had about 100 feet of snow on the ground so we weren't socializing much. There was no need for me to put effort into my look. It doesn't help that I work overnights in a warehouse. There's no need for much effort there either.

When getting ready for work, I slowly started wearing less and less makeup. I was just wearing powder, mascara and occasionally some lip gloss if it was in my bag. Soon it was just the mascara, then no make up at all. Wearing no makeup made it much easier getting ready for bed when I got home at 6am. I didn't have to wash my face, one less step before I could sleep! My work wardrobe matched my makeup routine, it consisted of jeans, fleece and an old pair of Nikes.

Currently my wardrobe is an Old Navy t-shirt (love the v neck vintage ones) with shorts or some sort of yoga pant. I love a good yoga pant, especially the capri style. I don't actualy do much yoga in them but I love to wear them. Again, my social life is on the back burner after just having a baby. However, now that its summertime, there are BBQs, weddings and happy hours on patios. It's time to free myself from feeling frumpy and get back to "classy casual!"

My standard outfit.

This has been a little more difficult than I thought. It takes time to get oneself put together. Tack on a newborn, toddler, and a husband who needs help picking out clothes and it's almost impossible to get out the door on time. By the time we're out the door, I already am sweaty and looking dishelved. It's a lot of work to get ready!

I'm slowly learning tricks that are helping me get some style back as I head out and about this summer. Feeling less frumpy means having a game plan for getting ready, tinted moisturizer, and a lipgloss always within reach.

Feeling non frumpy. 

Friday, May 23, 2014

The Friday Five

Here's what I'm loving this week:

1. Cora is One Month Old
Time is going so fast and I can't believe she is a month old. She is doing so well and I love her more each day. A more detailed one month update coming soon.
Another child that doesn't smile.

2. Happy 4 Year Anniversary
Mike and I celebrated our four year anniversary on the 22nd. Grandma and Grandpa G and Auntie Andrea watched the kids while Mike and I went out to dinner. Yard House restaurant just opened in our neighborhood and we've been wanting to try it. It's known for its extensive variety of beers on tap. The beer was good and the food was delicious. I had the surf and turf burger and Mike had ginger crusted salmon with a side of wasabi mashed potatoes. The potatoes stole the show, amazing!

Yes, that is lobster on my burger. 

3. Outings and More Outings
With summer just around the corner, festivals in the Twin Cities are in full swing. There are so many family friendly things to do in and around our community. This week we went to the St. Louis Park ice cream social, the Minnesota State Tree Climbing Competition, and Evan's end of school year  picnic.

Tree Climbing

Tree Climbers

Evan's attempt at climbing a tree.

Ice Cream

Sitting in the big snow plow truck. 

4. $1 Spray Bottle
Who knew how much fun a spray bottle could be? I found this while browsing the dollar bins at Target. E loves water so I thought this would be fun for the summer. He goes around spraying everything and anything.
*Disclaimer, as I'm writing this, Mike just came inside and told me the spray bottle broke. So maybe not the best idea.


5. Shopping
I had a morning of shopping by myself which was a real treat. I can't remember the last time I did that. I enjoyed walking the mall sipping my Caribou and scouring the sale racks. I found some great clothes on sale for Cora and picked up a skirt for myself to wear to the weddings we have this summer.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Being a Good Enough Mother

The other day was one of those days when I felt like a parenting failure. It all started during the night. I couldn't sleep. Not because of the kids, I just couldn't turn my brain off. So I started my day even more sleep deprived than normal. No amount of coffee was lifting my fog. Cora was fussy and the only thing that would keep E occupied for more than five minutes was Mickey Mouse. It was pouring rain out for most of the day which meant we couldn't go outside. On days like these, that would have been ideal. In my sleepy fog, I just didn't have it in me to get creative and entertain a toddler for hours on end. So a Mickey Mouse marathon it was. Just to break up the day, we did head out to Target and I did get a little creative with some shaving cream finger painting which lasted for all of 20 minutes.

As I was finishing up the dinner dishes that night, I thought about what a slacker Mom I was during the day and felt guilty. "Mommy Guilt" over other things made its way into my thoughts as well. I feel guilty that I didn't exclusively breastfeed my kids, I feel guilty that E barely eats a vegetable, I feel guilty when E spends too much time on the iPad or if I leave Cora in her swing when she's awake. My list of guilty feelings could go on and on.

I was still in my funk when I moved into the living room to pick up toys and saw my Minnesota Parent Magazine. I remembered an article I read in that issue about letting go of the "Mommy Guilt" and embrace the concept of the "Good Enough" mother. I glanced at the article again and a quote from the article really stood out to me, "There is no one 'right' way to raise a child. Being a good enough parent, providing love, support and safety, but still making mistakes, is all that is necessary for a child to thrive."  

I know I make mistakes with my children and will most likely have another day like I did this one. However, there is no doubt my kids are loved, supported and kept safe. Some days they may watch a little too much TV or not eat enough vegetables. But in the big picture, does that stuff really matter?  Is that going to prevent E and Cora from growing up to be confident and kind adults that contribute to society? Probably not. As a Mom, that's all I really want for my kids. Me feeling guilty over those things sure isn't helping either. If anything, the guilty feelings make it worse because then I try to overcompensate in other ways.

To me, embracing the "Good Enough" mother concept means giving myself a break and allowing myself to be OK with having a hard day. I know I'm doing a good job as a Mom because I love my kids unconditionally and every decision I make regarding my kids I make with their best interest in mind. Next time I feel I'm being a slacker Mom, I have to remember that I am good enough and I am doing my best. And thankfully, God gives us a new day to do better.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

I'm a Girl Mom

A while ago I wrote about being a Boy Mom and how much I enjoy having a little boy. Read about that here. Well I do love having a little boy, but now that I have Cora, I know I was meant to be a Girl Mom too. Even though I was certain I would have two little boys, as soon as I met Cora, I just knew I was destined to have her.

When E was little, I loved dressing him and planned his outfits out days ahead of time. I loved the little polos and kahki shorts. Now I'm lucky if I can get clothes on him and when I do, it's t-shirts and sweats. With Cora, I'm in a whole new world. There's so much more of a selction of girl clothes and I must admit, I immediately fell in love with it all. How could I not? Little leggings, headbands and tiny shoes. And the dresses, oh the little dresses. She's not even a month old and she already has a dresser full of pink.

As Cora grows older, I can't help but envision us going shopping, getting pedicures and doing other "girly" things. I'm still not looking forward to playing Barbies and maybe I'll get lucky and she won't be into Barbies. She may take after her brother and want to play trucks all. day. long. Or maybe she'll be into something completely different and whatever that is I'm sure I'll learn to love it too. I'm just so happy that I get the best of both worlds, being a Boy Mom and a Girl Mom.

Friday, May 16, 2014

The Friday Five

Here's what I'm loving this week:

1. My New Wash and Go Haircut
I tried a new salon last week and was feeling daring. I knew I wanted to go shorter and needed low maintenance. I wasn't planning on going this short but the stylist talked me into it. I was nervous but I thought of my bestie Mandy and how daring she is with her hair and her voice said "Go for it!" It's shorter than I like but I must say it is so easy to get ready now.

2. Dunkin' Doughnuts Creamer
Love me some Dunkin' Doughnuts coffee and I tried their coffee creamer this week. Yum! There aren't any DDs in Minnesota and this creamer is almost, ALMOST like getting the real thing.

3. Sheetrock
The basement has been a work in progress for a while now. We are finally getting sheetrock put up this week and we are one step closer to having a finished basement which means more space.

4. Middle of the Night Parties
OK, I'm not loving this but this has been a big part of our week. Both kids have been in party mode in the middle of the night this week. Cora does not cry a lot but lately during her middle of the night feedings she is wide awake and ready to party. We hang out and watch The Tonight Show on DVR and she eventually will fall back asleep. E is going through a phase of getting up in the middle of the night too. We are slowly transitioning him to a "big boy" bed and when he wakes up he doesn't want to stay in there and finds his way into Mom and Dad's bed. Sometimes he will fall back asleep but sometimes he thinks it's party time.

The kids crashed mid morning after one particular rough night this week.

Napping with Crocs on. 

My drama queen is exhausted.
5. Girls, Sushi and Wine
I went out for sushi with some girl friends for the first time since Cora was born. The sushi and wine were delicious and it was great spending time with my friends. Nights out with the girls are needed every now and then. This was also Mike's first time solo parenting both kids and he said it was a breeze.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Feeling Cheated to Feeling Lucky

When I was pregnant with E, Mike and I attended birthing classes and I had written out a very specific birth plan. We talked about the birth a lot and how we envisioned it. I wanted a natural birth, I wanted to breastfeed right away, and I wanted only Mike in the room with me and he was to stay by my head the entire time. None of that happened, you can read about that here, and I ended up having an emergency c-section. 

After E's birth, I felt cheated out of the birthing experience. I had been anticipating for months that exciting moment when I went into labor and we'd drive to the hospital. I had taken classes and read all about strategies for a natural birth. I didn't get to use any of that. I was cheated out of one of the most miraculous experiences a woman can have.

When I got pregnant with Cora, I thought about trying to do a natural birth this time around. I did some research on natural births to refresh my brain. The idea of going through hours of labor and all the other stuff that goes along with it didn't seem worth it just to get that experience. Recovering from my c-section with E was a walk in the park compared to what I was reading. I talked to my Dr. to get his thoughts and considering my complications with E, he strongly recomeneded sceduling a c-section. We were on the same page but for a moment, I was still sadden by the fact I most likely wouldn't get that surprise moment of going into labor. But then my planner personality kicked in and the thought of having everything planned out seemed really appealing. Childcare for E could be arranged, our out of town parents could easily plan their arrival for Baby 2, and setting up maternity leave would be a breeze. Yes, I was liking this planned c-section plan more and more.

After how smooth and calm Cora's birth was, I no longer feel cheated out of the birthing experience. I feel lucky. Lucky that it went so well and once again I had a fairly easy recovery. Mike and I genuinely enjoyed our time in the hospital. Sure there were a few moments, but overall it was great bonding time with Cora. I may not have had my kids the "normal" way and some people may even say having a scheduled c-section is the easy way to have a baby. But just like everything in the complicated world of parenting, we are all just doing the best we can and make choices that are best for our family regardless of any stigma that might come along with those choices. If there is a Baby 3 for the Gesellchen family, I will happily schedule my c-section without any feelings of being cheated out of a "normal" birth.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Mother's Day

I was in a bit of a tizzy this Mother's Day. I had decided last week that I wanted to have both sets of parents and my sister and brother in-law join us for church on Sunday and then back to our house for a Mother's Day brunch. I had this vision of a Martha Stewart style brunch, I'd use my coffee table to set up mini pastries and mimosas, I'd serve several versions of egg bake, and I'd decorate with fresh flowers everywhere. E and Cora would be dressed up in the cutest outfits for church and I was planning on wearing one of my favorite spring dresses. It was going to be fabulous!

My tizzy started on Saturday night when it was after 7pm and I was just starting to put together my egg bakes and hadn't even started decorating the tables. The day just got away from me. Somehow I must have forgotten that I just had a baby less than three weeks ago and I can't go go go. I was exhausted. Even with the help of Mom and Mike, my Martha Stewart vision was dwindling.  Screw the different types of egg bakes, a basic one would be fine. And my mimosa/pastry table, well that was just a bad idea to begin with. It would have been right at E's level and I would have spent the entire time saying, "No Evan!" or have a huge mess in my living room.

It continued downhill from there when I went to try my dress on.  Again, I must have forgotten that I just had a baby. The dress was not happening. I went digging through my closet and came up with an alternative outfit for church. Not what I had planned, but it would work. I went to bed Saturday night feeling a little defeated.

Sunday morning, I woke up feeling more confident. My egg bakes were already in the oven baking, when we got home from church I could just throw them back in to quickly heat up. Everyone was up and we were on track to leave the house at 10am. I had Cora dressed in her outfit which I had planned out days before. It was the cutest navy and white stripped dress with pink trim, pink leggings, and a navy cardigan sweater. She was ready to go, bow in place and shoes on.  Cora was in her swing and I went to check on her. The smell hit me fast. She pooped...again. No big deal, there was plenty of time to change her. I started changing Cora and it was a blowout. Once again I found myself digging through a closet to find an alternative outfit. Feelings of defeat were creeping back. I found Cora another outfit and that girl is so dang cute she can pull off anything. All was well again. We were out the door at 10am and even had time for some family pics.

During church, E had fallen asleep. He was snuggled on my lap and as I looked at him I wondered how he got so big. How could this be my baby boy? Where does the time go? I began to reflect on the events that had occurred over the past 24 hours. I was ashamed at how upset I got about silly things. My Mother's Day brunch would never be featured in Martha's magazine and I didn't get to wear my dress. But none of that really matters. Sitting there in church holding E I just felt so blessed that he made me a Mom. Because there was a time when I could have cared less if I ever became a Mom and that thought scares me. The idea that I would never know E or Cora is unimaginable.

Leaving church, I let my original vision of brunch go. I decided to enjoy my Mother's Day with my family and not spend time worrying about how my table looks. And I did enjoy my day. The food was excellent, the company even better and seeing E deliver Mother's Day cards to everyone was priceless. Let this Mother's Day be a reminder to me that enjoying real moments with people is more important than spending time trying to create perfect moments.

The Perfect Moment


Friday, May 9, 2014

The Friday Five

Here's what I'm loving this week...

1. The Mindy Project Season Finale
My favorite show on TV right now and the season finale was great. I can't wait for season three to start. I may have to read Mindy Kaling's book again to get my Mindy fix over the summer.

2. First Days of a Family of Four 
On Sunday, all the grandparents left and it was just us four. It was nice having the extra help to cook, do laundry, and help with the kids but Mike and I are managing just fine on our own. Sure, the laundry has piled up a bit and we had mac and cheese with hot dogs for dinner one night but we both agree this time it seems easier than when we first had E. Probably because we're more confident in our parenting skills and we have realistic expectations of what having a newborn is like.

I have to be completely honest here, the grandparents are back already for Mother's Day so we've only gone three days without extra help :)

3. E is Back at the Parks
E has been hitting up the local parks a lot this week and he's a lot more adventurous this year. He goes down the big slides all by himself and he's so proud. When he gets to the bottom of the slide, he'll shout "Hooray!" or "Evan did it!"

He's also  is interacting more with other kids. He and another little girl were chasing each other the other day. Older kids interact with him too. They lift him up on the playground equipment or hold his hand to cross the bouncy bridge which still intimidates E.

4. Daddy's Helper 
I've mentioned before how E is a Daddy's boy. Whatever Mike is doing, E wants to do too. This week E helped Mike work on the car and he's already learning to take out the garbage. I just hope when we start implementing household chores, E is still eager to help out.

5. Cora's First Target Trip
Cora took her first trip of many to Target this week. She slept the entire time but I know she loved it. I'm the type of shopper that goes to Target for five things and somehow comes out $100 later with a cart full of stuff I "had" to have. I'm excited to teach Cora the "Target shopping experience," start with a Starbucks, only shopping the clearance racks and finishing with groceries. I foresee us being a dangerous duo when it comes to shopping.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

A Note from the Paternal Side - Outside Parenting

Summer is coming which means outdoor parenting is back! Behind are the fifteen hour days of four walls growing smaller with each passing minute as mother nature keeps us captive with her cold wrath.

The nagging thoughts of trying to be a good parent while keeping Evan stimulated and engaged seem to fall away like the many layers of clothing we put on just to go outside.

Gone are the feelings of guilt by saying, “OK, just one more Mick Mouse. (Mickey Mouse)”

This summer Evan will be running; and that means exploring. Parks, trail, and all things outside. Then, there’s the holy grail of Evan’s toy kingdom. Trucks and sand. Monks who have taken a vow of silence couldn't mimic the intense focus Evan has when he’s digging in his sandbox. Hours pass like lighting. A balance is restored. Evan gets exercise, vitamin D, and most importantly sleep.  

Yes, this summer I imagine there will still be times when every couch cushion and pillow will be on the floor and oatmeal will be flung throughout the house, but when all the forts have been built and all the caves explored, I’ll say, “Evan, let’s go outside.” He’ll stop what he is doing, his eyes will light up, and with a smile say “side.”

The world has opened up.

Friday, May 2, 2014

The Friday Five

As I've stated before, this blog is a way to document the happenings of my family. I have been in complete bliss during my maternity leave and I want to remember this special time. I will be posting The Friday Five which will recap some of my top 5 favorite things from the week.

1. Cora's weight check went well. She's back up to her birth weight of 7lbs and 3oz. We can tell a difference with her too.  She wakes up for some feedings and is awake more during the day. We've had to use minimal formula so I'm hoping my milk supply can keep up with her.

2. E taking Cora to school for show and tell. E and the other kids were not interested in the baby at all. It was more for the other Moms and teachers.

Ready to go to school with her Big Brother.

3. Walking into the kitchen and seeing my son like this...

E was cooking with Grandma, apron on but no pants.

4. Cora's first bath at home. Big Brother took this as an opportunity to play in the water.

5. Going out to Applebee's for dinner with my two boys. I also enjoyed my first post pregnancy adult beverage, a Surly Furious. Delicious!